As South Carolina Continues to Prepare for the Novel Coronavirus, Public Health Officials Urge Residents to Guard Against the Flu
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Feb. 14, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. – As it closely monitors a rapidly emerging outbreak of a new coronavirus, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is reminding South Carolinians to take steps to protect themselves against a more present threat — the flu.
COVID-19, the new coronavirus responsible for an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, is a serious public health concern and DHEC is working with federal and state health partners in preparation to prevent its spread. However, the virus is not spreading in the U.S. and the immediate risk to the U.S. general public remains low at this time. Meanwhile, flu activity across the nation and South Carolina remains widespread. As of Feb. 12, there have been 1,931 hospitalizations and 68 flu-related deaths reported in South Carolina this flu season.
“It’s important to remember that symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as the flu,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC Physician and Medical Consultant. “We are currently seeing widespread transmission of flu. The risk for exposure to the flu for the general population is high and the risk of complications and deaths from the flu are a far greater public health threat than COVID-19 in the U.S. at this time.”
During the S.C. Health and Environmental Control Board Meeting, Dr. Kacka provided board members with an update on COVID-19 preparations and activities in South Carolina. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina.
DHEC continues to encourage people who are unvaccinated to get the flu vaccine. This protects individuals and the public and reduces confusion of more common respiratory illnesses with possible COVID-19 illnesses.
Other steps South Carolinians can take to help stay healthy include:
• washing your hands,
• covering your cough,
• staying home when you’re sick, and
• appropriately disposing tissues and other items that you've sneezed or coughed into.